Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. - Acts 2:38-39.
Many of our readers send in texts without any attached comments or questions. While this is appreciated because it gives me opportunity to talk about texts one would not ordinarily discuss, it also has its problems. One is not always sure why a particular text was sent in. Perhaps a reader did not understand some part of it. Then again, a reader may want to point to a given text as "proof" for a position different from mine. And it is not impossible, I think, for readers to send in a text because he or she thinks it is of sufficient importance that the truth of it ought to be call to the attention of a wider audience.
Whatever the reason may be, I run the risk of missing the point which a reader had in mind when he or she sent in the text. I hope, if this should be the case, that a disappointed reader will write again and give the reason for sending in that particular text.
Having said all that, I want now to make some remarks about this important text in Acts 2, which one of our readers sent in. It is one of the New Testament texts which prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Christ's will for the church is that infants of believers be baptized; and that failure to do so is disobedience to the will of Christ.
The first point of the text that needs to be noted is the fact that it is the conclusion of Peter's remarkable Pentecostal sermon. It is, if I may put it that way, the "application" of a sermon which explained to the people the meaning of the outpouring of the Spirit.
The audience were Jews and proselytes (v. 10). They were steeped in the Old Testament Scriptures. They were, in the deepest and most profound sense of the word, a covenant-conscious people. They were covenant-conscious in a deeper way than we are oftentimes, although we ought to be even more covenant-conscious than they were. They knew thoroughly and completely the fact that the truth of God's covenant was the one great theme of all the Old Testament Scriptures. They knew that Christ could come only because of a God faithful to His covenant. They understood that believing Israel, living in the hope of Christ's coming, rejoiced in the fact that they were God's covenant people and that they were God's means to bring forth the seed of the covenant, Christ.
All their thinking was in terms of the covenant, and especially the fact that God established His covenant in the line of generations, i.e., with believers and their seed. I belabor this point because from the point of view every person in Peter's audience not only knew exactly what Peter was talking about when he spoke of "the promise to you and your children" but they all understood full well that this was exactly what the OT was always talking about, and that all that had not change with the coming of Christ.
The second point that needs emphasis is the fact that Peter is answering a query that came from the people, a query recorded in v. 37, and that arose out of the fact that the people were pricked in their hearts.
Peter's sermon, as is always true of the preaching of the gospel, was the means God used to bring His people to the consciousness of their sin and of their just judgment before God. Out of their distress, they asked Peter and the apostles, "What shall we do?"
They did not mean, of course, what works of merit can we now perform in order to placate an angry God and secure, perhaps, some favor from Him. They meant: "We justly deserve God's wrath for we have crucified the promised Messiah, Him Whom we claimed to be the object of our hope. What shall now become of us? Is there no hope?"
In answer to that anxious and troubled query Peter responded: "Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins."
What a remarkable answer!
It was really the whole gospel which had already been preached in the old dispensation when the prophets had called the people to repentance; and it had been the very heart of the ministry of John the Baptist. Repent! That was what God had always demanded, and still demands.
But now repentance had to be a confession of the sin of crucifying the Christ! The greatest, most terrible sin of all, would be forgiven by repentance! Nothing more. But also nothing less. Sorrow for sin. A heartfelt confession of its terrible wrongness. Still it was true that a broken spirit and a contrite heart God would not despise.
Such repentance would bring forgiveness: "Repent…for the forgiveness of sins." Even nailing Christ to the cross would be forgiven in the way of repentance.
Why? Well, simply because Christ Himself had suffered and died to pay for all sin, even the sin of the ages, the sin of crucifying the Son of God.
These were Peter's astounding words.
But we shall have to continue our discussion of this text.
- Volume: 8
- Issue: 3
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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